The Christmas season is an invitation for us to reflect on the mystery of the Incarnation – on God’s love for us and on the obedience of Christ to humble himself by sharing our humanity. And in the readings for the Epiphany, we see how that reflection leads to concrete action in our lives.
To reflect on the mystery of Christ’s Incarnation is to come to know Jesus himself, and to know him is to love him. The wise men appear to be well aware of the implications of the Incarnation, especially that Christ’s arrival is for the good of the whole world, even for Gentiles, and come to worship the newborn Jesus, bearing gifts and paying him homage – it is love that drives them and the recognition that his arrival is for the good of all. This recognition and love are in stark contrast to the fear and selfishness that prompts Herod to seek out the newborn Christ. Herod presumes that the newborn Christ will become the conquering messiah that many in Israel expected, and did not stop to reflect on the fact that he was instead born in the small town of Bethlehem to no fanfare. The fear that drove him, his own desire to keep power, prevented him from even reflecting on the reality of the Incarnation, let alone praising Jesus as the wise men did.
For us, I find there is great solace in these readings and a reminder of our Christian mission. Reflecting on the Incarnation we see that the call to Christian life is universal, and both the prophet Isaiah and St. Paul remind us of this. Isaiah prophesizes that the whole world will come to praise the Lord, and St. Paul says that “the same promise has been made” to all who follow Christ. Christ’s Incarnation is for the good of all, including the people of Israel, the wise men from the East, and us today. And the wise men remind us that the Christian life that we are called to is supposed to be Christ-centred. The Christian should be actively seeking Christ out, paying him homage, and giving him the gifts that we can offer to him. These actions of love and sincere praise come from that reflection on Christ. This Christmas season let us be like the wise men and both reflect on the mystery of Christ and show him the love that we are called to.
Daniel Salé – St. Joseph Seminary, Edmonton, Alberta
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